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Ultimate Questions: Thinking about Philosophy, 3rd Edition

By Nils Ch. Rauhut

Published by Pearson

Published Date: Oct 21, 2010

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This inexpensive and brief text examines the main problems in contemporary philosophy and uses more than 100 “Food for Thought” exercises to promote critical thinking and help students become active learners of philosophy. The book is intended for use by professors teaching a problems-oriented course, but is structured to appeal to any reader willing to explore subjects such as free will, personal identity, existence of God, and more.


Ultimate Questions explores how the timeless problems of Western philosophy are located inside our ordinary ways of thinking and being.  It encourages readers to think about philosophy first-hand by using vivid and engaging examples.  It also introduces readers to prominent up-to-date theories being applied to the same problems encountered by contemporary analytic philosophers.  After reading this text, students will gain a better sense of how mysterious their own natures really are. 

Table of Contents


CHAPTER ONE: What is Philosophy?

        Making Sense of the World                                                                             

        The Relationship between Philosophy and Science                                            

       The Main Branches of Philosophy                                                                    


CHAPTER TWO: Philosophical Tools                                                                                

      Logical Consistency                                                                                         

        A Demand of Reason: Avoid Contradictions

        Logical Possibility                                                                                                        


        Lexical and Real Definitions

        Challenging Definitions: Counterexamples and Thought Experiments                              

        The Basic Structure of Arguments                                                                   

                Putting Arguments into Standard Form                                                             

        Deductive and Inductive Argument                                                                                

        Evaluating Deductive Arguments: Validity and Soundness                       

            Evaluating Deductive Arguments: Logical Form                        

                Evaluating Inductive Arguments: Probability                              



CHAPTER THREE: WHAT DO WE KNOW?                                                      

        What is Knowledge?                                                                .                      

        Three Different Theories of Knowledge                                                


                The Case for Skepticism                                                                      

                Descartes’ Quest for Certainty                                                 


                The Case for Empiricism                                                                      

                Problems with Perception                                                                    

                The Problem of Induction                                                                     


                The Case for Rationalism                                                                      

                Problems for Rationalism                                                                     

        Final Remarks on Epistemology                                                                       



CHAPTER FOUR: THE PROBLEM OF FREE WILL                                        

        Why is there a Problem with Free Will?                                                

        The Case for Hard-Determinism                                                                      

        Can Indeterminism save Free Will?                                                                  


                Traditional Compatibilism                                                                     

                Deep-Self Compatibilism                                                                     

                A Fundamental Problem for Compatibilism                               


                The Case for Libertarianism                                                                                

                Problems for Libertarianism                                                              

        Final Remarks on the Problem of Free Will                                                      




            What is the problem?

            The Persistence Question

            The Illusion Theory of Personal Identity                                                

                        The Case for the Illusion Theory                                                           

                  Problems for the Illusion Theory                                                           

            The Body Theory of Personal Identity [Animalism]                                                       

                        The Case for the Body Theory                                                 

                        Problems for the Body Theory                                                 

            The Soul Theory of Personal Identity                                                                

                        The Case for the Soul Theory                                                              

                        Problems for the Soul Theory                                        .                      

            The Memory Theory of Personal Identity                                                         

                        The Case for the Memory Theory                                                                                

                        Problems for the Memory Theory                                                              

         Final Remarks on Personal Identity                                                                  



CHAPTER SIX: THE MIND/BODY PROBLEM                         

            What is the Problem                                                                                        

            Possible Solutions to the Mind/Body Problem                                      

            Substance Dualism                                                                                           

                        Arguments for Substance Dualism                                                        

                                    Near-Death Experiences                                                          

                                    The Conceivability Argument                                                   


                        Arguments against Substance Dualism                                      

                                    The Problem of Interaction                                                       

                                    Do Dualists commit a Category Mistake?                                 

            Varieties of Physicalism                                                                        


                        Logical Behaviorism                                                                             

                        Arguments against Logical Behaviorism                                    

            The Identity Theory                                                                              .          

                        Evidence for the Identity Theory                                                           

                        Arguments against the Identity Theory                                      


                        Functional Concepts and “Stuff” Concepts                               

                        Functionalism: Mind as Software                                              

                        Functionalism and Artificial Intelligence: The Turing Test           

                        Arguments against Functionalism                                   .          

                                    The Chinese Room Argument                          

                                    Problems with Qualia                                                               

            Eliminative Materialism                                                             

            Final Remarks on the Mind Body Problem                                           


  CHAPTER SEVEN: DOES GOD EXIST?                                   

            God, Faith, and Reason                                                                       

            What do we mean by the word “God”?                                    

            Arguments in Defense of a Classical Theistic God                                 

                        Arguments from Religious Experiences                         

                        Cosmological Argument                                                           

                        Design Arguments                                                                    

                        The Ontological Argument                                                       

                        Pascal’s Wager                                                                       

                        What is the Effect of these Arguments?                         

            Arguments against the Existence of a Classical Theistic God                              

                        The Logical Problem of Evil                                                     

                        The Evidential Problem of Evil                                      

            Final Remarks on the Problem of God’s Existence                                



CHAPTER EIGHT: WHAT OUGHT WE TO DO?                         

            Moral Intuitions and Moral Principles                                       

            A Fundamental Challenge: Relativism                                       

                        The Case for Subjective Relativism                                          

                        Problems for Subjective Relativism                                           

                        The Case for Cultural Relativism                                              

                        Problems for Cultural Relativism                                               

                        Final Remarks on Cultural Relativism                                        

            Some Important Ethical Theories                                                                                  

            Divine Command Theory                                                         

                        The Case for the Divine Command Theory                   

                        Problems for the Divine Command Theory.                  


                        The Basic Idea                                                            

                        Pleasure and Happiness                                    .          

                        Problems for Utilitarianism                                           

            Duty Based Theories                                                                                                                           

                        The Importance of a Good Will                              

                        Advantages of Kant’s Ethics                                        

                        Problems for Kant’s Ethics                                          

            Virtue Based Theories                                                             

                        The Importance of Moral Character                             

                        Advantages of Virtue Ethics                                         

                        Problems for Virtue Ethics                                           

                        Final Remarks on the Problem of Morality        

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